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Webinar archives: Engage and Innovate with Challenges and Challenge.gov

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MapLight - revealing money's influence on politics

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Interesting stuff in the Journal publishing reform about open journals, etc. Focused on Math, but may be inspiring for other sciences too! Other relevant reading is the Research Works Act of 2011 (H.R. 3699)

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MIT Technology Review: Undermining China's Monopoly on Rare Earth Elements. See also the Critical Materials Strategy (PDF) report.

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Congratulations! :) Kay Awarded IBM Center Funds

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Return of blood samples to Brazilian tribes

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U.S. Businesses Report 2008 Worldwide R&D Expense of $330 Billion: Findings from New NSF Survey

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Interview with Harold Varmus in Seed Magazine: "The impact factor is a completely flawed metric and it’s a source of a lot of unhappiness in the scientific community."

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There should be limits to the collection of personal data: Please explain: why Google wants your Wi-Fi data

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TechCrunch: "Remember Those Red Darpa Balloons? We Helped Find Three Of Them"

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Senators Introduce "Start-Up Visa" Legislation

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The other way around? This is another (very interesting) example of civil technologies that find military application. Why Does the Air Force Want Thousands of PlayStations?

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In Wired: Google Introduces Real-Time Search. Looks great... see it in action here. It would be nice to have the same feature for Google Shopping!

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DARPA Network Challenge

The recently announced DARPA Network Challenge sought to explore "the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems". The challenge was to locate ten moored red weather balloons located at ten fixed locations in the continental United States, offering a $40,000 prize reward for that. The competition took place on December 5th. These are only some thoughts on the challenge, drawing upon some sources I recently read.
How would was the incentive to compete? Well, I do remember very enthusiastic comments from some participants (unfortunately, I did not save all the links to those websites—here is just an example). Beyond the interesting focus of the prize from the sponsor's research point of view, it is interesting to see how a simply defined prize target and, probably most importantly, $40K attracted so many people to the competition--4,000 participants as reported in http://twitter.com/DARPA_News ( @DARPA_News on Twitter ) or about 300 teams as cited in MSNBC. For regular people, $40K is good money, particularly in crisis time—and the costs of participating do not seem to be so high. However, I do not think that the extent to which participants considered this an achievable target or participated for other reasons is known (and this may be an important aspect when designing the right incentives in prizes). DARPA may have collected more information on this.
@DARPA_News reported that the competition leveraged the effort of at least 4,000 participants (o details on how those participants contributed to achieving the prize target or about their activities). The same source reported only 120 submissions for the position of the balloons by 1:31pm on Dec 5th; and the MIT Red Balloon Team was announced winner when there were only 30 minutes left before grounding the balloons that day. I did not find any comment on the MIT team website about how they worked to win the competition. But I did find something very interesting about how they tried to engage more people to participate. They implemented a scheme to share the prize reward based on the people participation: those who provide correct data on the location of balloons and those who invite them to participate would share the prize reward with the MIT team.
For sure, the competition has had different outcomes. In principle, DARPA has successfully attracted (again) the attention of the media and lots of people. Moreover, I really would like to read about how successful the collection of data for their experiment was. That was the primary goal of the competition. Probably not all participants benefited from their participation, yet some of them have probably learned more about their interests or how to apply their knowledge for other purposes related to the prize challenge. Surely, networking between participants has been another outcome.
Did the prize challenge look simple, yet it was too difficult to achieve? Well, in principle, there was a winner, so the challenge was achievable (I do not know the specifics on the needed technologies). From the point of view of the sponsor’s goals, it looks that the target was well defined, considering that the prize challenge was achieved with only few minutes left before the competition deadline! In other words, that probably had elicited the greatest possible effort from the participants.
Overall, this is another interesting case that shows how prizes can be used for very different purposes and engage lots of people in the meantime.

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Increasing access to public data is being replicated at the local level as well: NYTimes: Local Governments Offer Data to Miners

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Pending since some time ago: Barack Obama Loves Startups: New Federal Office for Early-Stage Entrepreneurs

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On the topics of this blog

If this is the first time you visit this blog, you first need to know that it has been very difficult to keep the site updated. I started the blog in 2004, when I was still living in Santa Fe, Argentina. The blog was very active during its first two years of life, but then, in 2006, I moved to Atlanta, GA to start my Ph.D.... I has spent a lot of time in front of the computer since then, but no time for blogging though.
You will see that "Blog on entrepreneurship, technological innovation and venture capital" (at the top of the page) still reflects the main contents of this blog in its early days. I am still interested in those topics (indeed, my research is related to those topics) but the blog now has a much broader coverage (and it is bilingual, partly to keep an archive of all the Spanish content already created).
Hopefully, I will continue writing on those topics, so come back regularly if you share the same interests. In particular, I may share some thoughts on the topic of my dissertation, inducement prizes and their effect on technological innovation (which is even more interesting!)

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A short article about the process of creating a new company has been recently published by Nature: Start up and succeed. For those that do not have too much knowledge about the process, it is interesting. It is oriented toward scientists who want to create a company, so it includes a few paragraphs on university spinoffs.

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ScienceWorksForUS has data on stimulus research projects across the US and profiles with money invested and research organizations for each state.

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I did not check it in detail yet: Time Magazine published a list of top-50 inventions of 2009 along with some related stuff too. You may find some interesting things there.

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9th Annual Roundtable for Engineering Entrepreneurship Research (REER), Oct 13-15, at Georgia Tech!

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Prizes and the US innovation policy

Interestingly, prizes are suggested as “high-risk, high-reward policy tools to solve tough problems” in the white paper A Strategy For American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth And Quality Jobs (which describes the new President Obama's innovation agenda). However, prizes are not widely used yet. Targeted federally-funded prizes have offered total rewards worth only about $50 million since 2004, first year of prize implementation for US agencies (see Federally Funded Innovation Inducement Prizes). That figure may increase notably in the future if, besides those targeted prizes, prizes with purchase commitment are used.

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Some media coverage of the recently announced MIT Clean Energy Prize 2010 (MIT offers cash for top clean energy idea - Boston Herald) and related (Using Prizes to Drive Energy Innovation - NYTimes)

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More prize money, more innovation?

Prizes for innovation are not new, but are increasingly attracting everyone’s attention since a few years ago. It is difficult to know how many innovation prizes have been offered, for example, in the last five years.

The idea that prizes can induce innovation has been more supported by recent practices than theory. Although academic research has contributed knowledge to this area, most of the attention has been paid by the broader economics literature on mechanisms to encourage innovation, where prizes are analytically compared with patents and other incentive schemes. We know little about how prizes work in practice.

That is the main reason why I decided to focus my doctoral dissertation on innovation inducement prizes. In particular, my research looks at how teams respond to prize incentives, perform R&D activities, and come up with innovations. Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to provide some insights on how (and to what extent) prizes induce innovation. In the meantime, I will try to post more comments on this and keep my blog updated!

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"We live on a planet that is now generating more than 43,000 gigabytes of data per day"
-Wired Aug. 2009

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Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship: More Recommendations Supporting VC-Backed Firm Access to SBIR-STTR (blog post)

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ScienceDaily: "A new study describes a method through which a selected set of memories can be rapidly and specifically erased from the mouse brain in a controlled and inducible manner."

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"The Power of Place: A National Strategy for Building America’s Communities of Innovation" (PDF), by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP).

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The Guardian: 'Intelligent' computers put to the test

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NYTimes blogs: "what we humans really need is a group of friendly, intelligent aliens to study us, and give us a report on what they find."

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The The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has presented a new report on innovation in the US. This is part of the series of ideas that the ITIF is suggesting for the next president's agenda. Previously in this blog.
I find interesting three of the eight measures suggested in the report:

1. expand tax credit for R&D
2. create a National Innovation Foundation
3. reform the patent system

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Nanodot is another blog about nanotechnology.

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Developing nanotechnology in Latin America

For those interested in nanotechnology in Latin America, here is the link to "Developing nanotechnology in Latin America", an article just published by me and Phil Shapira (Georgia Institute of Technology) in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11051-008-9503-z

This article investigates the development of nanotechnology in Latin America with a particular focus on Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. Based on data for nanotechnology research publications and patents and suggesting a framework for analyzing the development of R&D networks, we identify three potential strategies of nanotechnology research collaboration. Then, we seek to identify the balance of emphasis upon each of the three strategies by mapping the current research profile of those four countries. In general, we find that they are implementing policies and programs to develop nanotechnologies but differ in their collaboration strategies, institutional involvement, and level of development. On the other hand, we find that they coincide in having a modest industry participation in research and a low level of commercialization of nanotechnologies.

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New York Times: "Supreme Court’s Global Influence Is Waning"

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A preliminary report (PDF) on the U.S. S&T competitiveness
from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation claims that the earlier RAND research contains numerous analytical flaws and America’s economic competitiveness scenarios are not so optimistic.
According to RAND's researchers, the U.S. continues to lead the world in most key science and technology measures.
The comprehensive report from ITIF will be available in November 2008.

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Could terrorists use Second Life? In Wired blogs, Pentagon Researcher Unveils Warcraft Terror Plot

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Everybody is talking about Google Chrome. I tried it. I see that it is probably a bit faster than Firefox 3.0 and its minimalist look is nice. But, overall, nothing impressive.
Actually, it is interesting the comments of some people about it. Few days ago I heard some guys talking about how cool it is and, between the "cool" features, they emphasized the crash control thing. That sounds pretty incredible: the customer values above all how the product responds to malfunctions!?

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'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html

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Urban Development Project of Shibam
http://www.shibam-udp.org/

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Both Yahoo! and Google have a sort of "Build Your Own" Search Engine tool:
Yahoo BOSS:
http://developer.yahoo.com/search/boss/
Google Custom Search Engine:
http://www.google.com/coop/cse/

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The Corporate Cup: Cutting-edge companies are offering some major prize money to people who can come up with the next big thing.
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/06/0602_innovation_prize/index_01.htm

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Innovation Prizes Through History
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/06/0602_innovation_history/index_01.htm

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Cisco Pays Big for New Ideas
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc20080529_968185.htm

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WebStormTM by BrightIdea, Inc. is an Idea Collection and Ranking Portal that facilitates the innovation process.
http://www.brightidea.com

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YourEconomy is a free resource that enables visitors to take a closer look at business activity in their local communities and across the US.
http://www.youreconomy.org/

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Research and Policy for Entrepreneurial Economies
http://www.growthology.org/

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Meeting urges scientists into politics: Advice on how to ditch the lab for elected office.
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080521/full/453434a.html

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Microsoft Company 15 September 1975
http://www.thocp.net/companies/microsoft/microsoft_company.htm

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"Google Earth's new mapping programme takes you on a virtual reality tour with the UN refugee agency of some of the world's major displacement crises and the humanitarian efforts aimed at helping the victims."
http://www.unhcr.org/events/47f48dc92.html

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The Medical Innovation Prize Fund
http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/prizefund/

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Diario de un
emprendedor en
Argentina
(now based in
Santa Barbara, CA)

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